Going into Battle – Gotham’s Strongest Man and Woman Viking Battle III

It wasn’t hard to get hooked on Strongman Training at Global Strongman Gym and when Hans Pirman told me there was a competition a few months out and that he thought I might do well if I trained for it, I knew I needed to try it. I spent the next 8 weeks focusing on getting ready for the competition. For the first time ever, my training was for a purpose, not just random things that struck my fancy. I doggedly followed the training program Hans prescribed to get me ready – and it was FUN.  Last weekend, the Gotham Strongest Man and Woman Viking Battle finally happened.  I’ve never done a competition and really didn’t know what to expect, but figured a special outfit was in order to make myself feel really ready to be a badass. Seriously, the proper attire does wonders for feeling ready to face anything. There were 40 competitors and when I got to the gym, I was stunned by how many people were there – it was packed. I signed in, took a deep breath and tried not to overthink what was to come. I looked at the awesome trophies lined up on a table and secretly REALLY wanted one. I knew that it was really doubtful that I’d get to take one home in my first competition, so I just pushed it of my mind and tried to focus on Hans explaining the rules of the day’s events.
The Yoke was next  – a big thing that looks like a football goal post that you pick up and support on your back and “run” 50ft with. For my novice group, the weight was 300 lbs – I’d tried the weight before and knew that it was doable. As I hoisted it up and started to go, I heard cheers of “That’s right! FAST FEET!! Get it!” and in 10.5 seconds, I was done. A solidly speedy run with a big damn thing on my back. It wiped me out so I sat and cheered loudly for all those after me… and watched with awe the people who managed to carry even more. I watched it happen, but I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that people I’ve trained with were carrying 600+ pounds!
The sandbag carry was easily my best performance. I went 500ft in front of the throng of people, back and forth like a pacing queen refusing to put it down. I just pictured it like an angry, fat toddler, the 100 lbs I was trying not to drop. Visualizing is helpful. Even though I was surrounded by people, they were a blur. Hans walked behind me encouraging and egging me on – when I finally made it to the line at the 500ft and dropped it, I heard him say “INCREDIBLE!” and was so proud. I did momentarily think I might pass out though and the girl next to me said “That was insane, now get your arms above your head and breathe.” I nodded and lifted my arms gratefully. After a few minutes, I went back to cheering the rest of the competitors on.
The one event I’d been dreading was the Trap Deadlift – at 300 lbs it was far outside of my comfort zone. I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to move it at all. As in each round, I was the second to go and I had a brief moment of really believing it wasn’t going to go anywhere… and then it did. I pulled it up with a yell every single time for 7 reps. Not the best, not pretty but off the ground and completely stood up reps. I was fried though and the Atlas Stones, the final event for the comp, suffered because of it. It was the one event I thought would be the easiest for me. I train with one that is heavier and had overlooked just how drained I’d be by that point. My form went out the window. I did respectably, but was sloppy and had a couple of misses because of it. I tried to shake it off but I’m still a little annoyed I couldn’t keep it together to finish strong! Next time. The women’s event was for reps over the 44″ bar, the men’s was for max weight. Watching the men go after it was inspiring and the crowd was rooting every single competitor on. They crushed it as a whole but when someone finally got the 400lbs stone off the ground the crowd went absolutely crazy.
When the results were all tallied, it turned out that I came in 3rd in my division. I got to take one of those trophies home! I was giddy- I’ve never gotten a trophy for anything in my whole life!! It’s now proudly on a ledge in my apartment and one of the first things I see when I walk in the door. I might be just a little
proud of it…
3rd Place
As the day went on, the crowd continued to support and cheer each other on in what was one of the most awesome displays of community I’ve ever seen. We were individuals competing but we were a team in spirit. We cheered loudly for people pushing past their comfort zones, for PRs and for failed attempts because they were all done with so much heart. I fell in love with the Strongman community that afternoon. There is definitely another competition in my future… I have a score to settle with those damn stones.
Video and Photos by Eric Stafford

Getting Viking Strong at The Global Strongman Gym

Strongman Gym fbs

Last Saturday morning, I finally went to my very first class at the Global Strongman Gym. I didn’t really know what to expect but knew that as soon as it opened in Brooklyn, I would be there to check it out. The new space is HUGE and apparently at least 3 times the size of the old Chelsea location. In the new space, they offer both individual training and a group class to dip your toe into learning the Strongman way. Hans Pirman, who started out as a body builder and personal trainer before finding his passion for Strongman and opening his dedicated gym in 2011, is like meeting a very friendly Viking in person and I knew I was going to like him immediately.

Strongman FBS - Hans

The space is filled with all of the Strongman toys you could want and I wanted to play with ALL of them. For that very first class, about 10 of us showed up…and at least 5 of us had never done it before. The class as Hans describes it is a push movement and pull movement, which makes it sounds like it’s going to be a pretty standard workout but really, it’s anything but! After a short warm up, the first up was a “log” press – the ones we used are a metal version, but in the gym there is an actual log with handles carved by Hans. The ladies were divided off into our own group and at first the log was really light for me, but on round 2, Hans added more weight and when he jumped me up again for round 3, I really started to feel it.  I was so glad I didn’t ask to jump up to the next log size! Also, I pretty much learned in that class that when Hans gives you a weight to lift, you just do it. “Just pick it up” was not a statement to question from the Viking!

Strongman -FBS2

Next up was the pulling portion – working on the classic Strongman move of being able to lift a car. The heavy version in our class was lifting a 450lb tire that was set on a rig with handles, which most of the guys did. Then there was a bar option that the women went on. At first, I felt sort of grumpy that I wasn’t in the tire group but that bar version was heavy…and while the first round was easy(ish), once Hans added plates for that second and third round, it was super challenging. I’m going to work my way up to that damn tire group though! After a few rounds of the Farmer’s Carry, which for my group was 75lbs in each hand (a PR for me), I figured we were done. We weren’t done but it WAS the water break section!

One of the guys in class has been working out with Hans for over year and told me it was the only gym he’d ever been a member of. “The first workout I ever did was supposed to be an hour, I lasted 30 minutes before I seized up. As Hans was stretching me he said  ‘you are very out of shape. Did you know that?’ I was like YES. That’s why I’m here and he told me he could fix that…and he has.” I mean, if you have to pick only one gym ever, Strongman is a very cool one and I also completely see why you’d place your trust in Hans.

Strongman - FBS Atlas Stones

Getting ready for the Atlas Stones, I heard something I’ve never heard in a workout: “Put out your arms, I need to duct tape them.” Again, I didn’t really question Hans, just stuck out my arms and he explained while he did it that it was to protect your forearms when you lifted the cement spheres. I was a little concerned that it’d hurt coming off, but my friend who’d joined me in the class and is a seasoned strongman pro, assured me I’d sweat so much it’d come right off. I was dubious but she was totally right. My stone was the lightest option, 90lbs.  Basically, the goal is to just pull up the stone from the ground into your lap and then roll up your body and hoist onto a chest high platform. Then, pull it off the platform and let this big cement ball drop at your feet to start again – which was easily the only thing that truly scared me during the whole class. I was terrified I wouldn’t move my feet out of the way fast enough. It was fine and once I did it a couple of times, it seemed like the most sensible way to get the thing back to the start.  We did 3 rounds of 5 and even though I stayed at the same weight, that damn ball just seemed to get heavier every round.

We capped off the class with a round of ab work and then the most awesome surprise ever…Hans pulled out a stretching table and called us over one by one to get stretched. It was amazing and the best end to a strength class ever…like Savasana for Strongman.  A few days later, I made my way back to the gym to see if I could take some pictures for this post and Hans asked if I was sore after class. I laughed: “I haven’t been THAT sore after a workout in ages ..and I can’t wait to come back.” Seriously. I walked out of class feeling relaxed, strong and almost giddy at getting to really challenge myself. Plus, I really have to go back because being able to lift a car might come in handy if there ever is a zombie apocalypse…


FBS + Global Strongman Gym


Drop-In Group Classes are Saturday mornings, 10-11:15am at 987 Pacific Street.

Photos by Eric Stafford